A day after having his suspension reduced by Roger Goodell, Cleveland’s Scott Fujita lambasted the NFL commissioner, saying he has overstepped his authority in the New Orleans Saints bounty case.
Goodell reduced Fujita’s three-game suspension to one, an act one might think would please the Browns’ lineman. Not quite. Fujita released a statement Wednesday in which he expressed anger with a letter he received from Goodell after his suspension was reduced.
Goodell wrote to Fujita that he was “surprised and disappointed by the fact that you, a former defensive captain and a passionate advocate for player safety, ignored such a program and permitted it to continue. … If you had spoken up, perhaps other players would have refused to participate and the consequences with which we are now dealing could have been avoided.”
Fujita, a member of the NFL Players Association’s executive board, said he was displeased with Goodell’s “condescending tone used in his redetermination letter was neither accurate nor productive.”
Fujita added, “Additionally, I am now purportedly being suspended for failing to confront my former defensive coordinator for his inappropriate use of language. This seems like an extremely desperate attempt to punish me. I also think it sets a dangerous precedent when players can be disciplined for not challenging the behavior of their superiors. This is an absolute abuse of the power that’s been afforded to the Commissioner.”
Sources told ESPN that Fujita submitted signed declarations from nearly 20 players to the NFL before Goodell re-issued the penalties, saying that he did not contribute any money to a bounty fund.
Fujita also addressed player safety and questioned Goodell’s commitment.
“For me, the issue of player health and safety is personal,” Fujita said. “For the league and the Commissioner, it’s about perception and liability. The Commissioner says he is disappointed in me. The truth is, I’m disappointed in him. His positions on player health and safety since a 2009 congressional hearing on concussions have been inconsistent at best. He failed to acknowledge a link between concussions and post-career brain disease, pushed for an 18-game regular season, committed to a full season of Thursday night games, has continually challenged players’ rights to file workers compensation claims for on-the-job injuries, and he employed incompetent replacement officials for the start of the 2012 season. His actions or lack thereof are by the league’s own definition, ‘conduct detrimental.’
“My track record on the issue of player health and safety speaks for itself. And clearly, as I just listed, the Commissioner’s does too.”